As the first reports started to trickle in, the apprehensions of the party workers at 7 RCA and Congress WHQL began to crystallize to gloom. The early trends seemed to be daunting and slowly yet steadily the buildup towards the ultimate result was emerging. Beyond doubt the flow was In favor of Brutally Kanata Party (BGP), the major opposition party. By the end of the day… The Congress was truly humbled with an abysmally low tally… 44 seats, the lowest ever in the electoral history since independence. For the first time in two decades BGP emerged on its own as the arrest single party.
Backdrop & Introspection The result had its impact, at the Congress Parliamentary Board Meeting, the next day. Party President Mrs.. Sonic Gandhi and the Vice President Mr.. Rural Gandhi offered to resign. In an expected twist to the tale, their resignations were not accepted and the party decided to take collective responsibility. There were many issues to focus and It was quite unclear as to how the grand old party would seek to address these. For two successive terms, the party governed at centre along with Its coalition partners. 2004 elections sprang a definite surprise.
The BGP government was on an upswing, the campaign was highly Innovative, the economy In good nick with growth rate around 9. 5% and the image of Its leader Mr.. ABA Payees was most respected. The party perceived itself to be in the driving seat and its campaign “India Shining” was expected to hit off well with the electorate. In spite of strong economic indicators, fairly good record of governance, general sense of well being and all the predictions of re-election, the BGP were stunned. The congress campaign negated the best of Bops claims thus enabling them to take the lead in forming the government.
An intrepid and a politically innovative advertisement blitz failed to impress. The most unexpected happened and Congress secured its victory. The first five years I. E. 2004-2009, were conservative yet relatively non controversial. The symptoms of decline began to emerge. The economy was showing signs of recession, growth rate was on the slump, global economic conditions started to show challenging signs yet the congress managed to pull off In 2009 to get re-elected to form a coalition government again. Things began to change… Emboldened by its re-election and the arty started to influence policies and decisions resulting in an indifferent state of governance, conflicts, dilution of control, ineffective monitoring. Ministries began to exert themselves and more or less operated with impunity and became non responsive to PM; abundance of corrupt practices and scandals broke out, economy began to decline with high inflation, price rise, unemployment, dropping investments, growing incidents of violence against women, Look pal agitation etc which put a great deal of pressure.
The PM to large extent restricted his operations to his domain and as not seen exerting himself to bring the administration under his control. Coupled with this was the most Ineffective approach towards media and interaction on media which left the party scuttling for cover on many occasions. There emerged a general sense of strolls and stagnant state of affairs which was becoming a common overlook a large number of them. For the elections 2014, the focus of the party remained on personality I. E.
BGP preliminaries candidate and the issue of secularism. The emergence of PAP and its impact was sidelined and many issues relevant to the runner context of elections were not taken into cognizance. The approach was quite ambivalent and ambiguous. The net result was a mixed message to the electorate looking for answers to questions which remained unanswered. Campaign Challenges : BGP By 2011, the BGP apparently began its preparations to target the 2014 elections. The party began its preparation with a focus on identifying the correct strategy.
Having faced the double defeat in 2004 and 2009, it realized that success is possible if the party is able to project its image and be identified as a national alternative. In order to do so, it had to set itself on important issues namely Personality, Platform, Plank, Diversity, Demography and Development. By default, the PUP lead government seemed to pave way for crystallization of BGP campaign strategy by series of actions and inactions. As a first step, the BGP began the exercise of identifying a candidate suitable for spearheading the campaign.
After a series of up’s and town’s, the party was able to narrow down to the CM of Gujarat, Mr.. Neared Mood. The choice was fraught with controversy as many including leading political analysts felt that this old endanger the Bops chances. Even within the party there was a dissent from senior leaders like ELK Divan, Cushman Swarms etc. The other national parties seemed to rejoice as they felt it was a trap BGP had set for itself and the choice would undo their chances. By 2013, the official declaration took place and Mood was anointed the PM candidate, the face of BGP for the 2014 elections.
While the choice of Mood was becoming a controversy, the approach towards elections was to be aligned. The reach out was tremendous, the political alliances were challenging, the geographical ileitis were imposing, the regional heavy weights were difficult to rope in, Mood as a choice was also alienating some erstwhile partners like JDK(U). The party had to identify themes and means to reach out to the target population and make a convincing pitch. The environment had undergone an extensive technology makeover since 2004.
The decade has brought in changes in perception as regards elections, greater apolitical pro activity and dependence on reliable and fast communications. The demography too has undergone a rapid change; there was a growing sense of discontent on account of various factors effecting the society, economy and evildoer. Moreover, issues like unrest due to nationalism, cross border tensions, reactive neighborhood etc also tended to make the Job of convincing electorate that much more difficult. Though the national situation on multiple fronts was grim, the fact that such a situation was a hidden opportunity or not was truly debatable.
There were challenges in abundance and the choices were limited by time. The objective was to conceive and present a campaign which appeals to all sections simultaneously and converts the message to conviction and thereafter to action in terms of vote. Starting a campaign too early would be self defeating (2004 stands testimony for that) and too late would be ineffective or defensive (2009 a possible example). The question of when, where, how and who? For an effective campaign message and medium were to be identified and reinforced convincingly as a national alternative.
Bops approach towards 2014 was characterized by structured planning and focused execution. It SE about the Job in a clinical manner with pre defined objectives to achieve. The campaign activity was set in motion by basic reorganization of the party dare, revamp & election of national executive, short listing prospective Prime Ministerial candidate, identifying issues relevant for campaign, projecting party agenda through articulate spokespersons, adopting multiple media options to leverage reach & communicate were part of numerous hurdles that needed to be considered.
The national demography has undergone a substantial change and the increased awareness would also need specific attention. The climate across the country appears to have undergone a change with people across the cross section of society evincing a new found interest in elections. The youth and the educated middle and the upper middle class known for its disregard towards participation in elections appeared reengineering. A conservative estimate put the number of youth vote bank across the country was at 100 million.
A substantial chunk of this needed to be harnessed and it was also essential for the party to enhance its vote share across the country. The party needed to correctly identify the challenges of multiple segments divided by diverse parameters such as culture, language, education, age, economic status, religion. Large number of local issues were taking precedence over sectional issues which diluted the party’s influence visa–visa the regional players.
The campaign called for deliberate action plan with defined objectives and with red flags across the time span to accelerate/ decelerate the campaign. The party decided to go all out leveraging the best of technical brains. A multi-tiered campaign was to be conducted with the objective of targeting and winning over the circumspect population in its favor.. The impact was like a corporate entity trying to rebind itself with a new product launch. There was branding, there was product development, here was segment specific media strategy and there was people to people contact.
As the stage was set, the BGP was in top gear with the assemble results in northern states showing a thundering favor towards BGP. The time of opportune but the choices were different and difficult. Any misalignment would prove costly. The Aftermath The campaign was highly intense. Both the national parties pitched in all the resources. It was a no holds bar election with reputations at stake. The results were historic. An outright majority for BGP and an irrevocable domination of the Look Saba long with its allies.
The congress and the PUP stood decimated. The results were a surprise & beyond all the expectations of all political parties, experts and election surveys. What went right for BGP and why? What factors in this election are lessons for use of effective advertising and media promotion? How did Congress “Fail to sense the pulse”? What went wrong with experts and pollsters who could not identify the mood? Did “Personality, Platform, Plank, Diversity, Demography and Development” influence the advertising and media choices and if so how?